Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and some of his fellow progressives in the Senate are asking Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to include just as much funding for domestic priorities as international conflicts in a spending bill being discussed in the upper chamber.
The liberals are urging Senate leaders to give equal funding and attention to several “emergencies” unfolding in the United States as they are to the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Israel.
“The supplemental cannot just be about responding to emergencies abroad,” reads a new letter sent on Tuesday by Sanders and fellow left-wing Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Peter Welch (Vt.).
The memo is intended to rebalance Congress’ focus to include constituents at home as lawmakers have been largely focused on responding to the wars.
“In America today, working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor are struggling to deal with major crises at home that demand our immediate attention,” it continues. “How can we tell our constituents who are struggling to pay for the basic necessities of life that Congress can immediately provide tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to deal with emergencies abroad, but we somehow cannot afford to respond to the severe economic pain that they are feeling at home?”
Progressives in the upper chamber have condemned Hamas, a United States-designated terrorist organization, for its role in the attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and are continuing to work alongside moderate Democrats and the Biden administration to address the immediate aftermath of the attack and ongoing conflict in Gaza.
But the liberal senators, who are generally more critical of defense spending, are adding a new element by requesting resources be spent at home to mitigate simultaneous American crises. They are calling for “adequate funding” in the supplemental bill for health care and child care, housing costs, the ongoing drug and opioid epidemic, hunger and food instability, and natural disasters.
Each priority falls within the portfolio of signature issues prompted by the senators who signed the letter. Sanders regularly focuses on health care and housing, while Warren has focused deeply on childcare. Merkley has been a leading voice on climate.
“We have a responsibility to act boldly to respond to ALL of the major emergencies we face – both at home and abroad,” the senators wrote.